Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Welcome to Woodlawn---Part II

Moving day came and went. Our building as well as our association started to fill with new and excited first time homeowners. Young people living the American Dream of owning their own home---becoming the captains of their ship so to speak.

There’s always a learning curve when you’re dealing with any new situation so owning your own unit in a condominium is no exception. The difference is that a learning curve mixed with naiveté and conniving developer are a potentially costly mix.

Due to those factors and plain out and out apathy on the part of some unit owners, our developer was the president of our association for the first two years of our existence.

Talk about putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

Naturally nothing significant got done over the next two years. Meetings were held without notice to the other unit owners, financials or meeting minutes were never made available for inspection and our building continued to fall apart under our very noses.

I contribute our failing to detect our perilous state of our business affairs on a few things. Primary was apathy---pure and simple. When you have a group of people who are used to renting and they become owners that old renter’s mentality dies hard. Not that that is a bad thing but when you’re a part of a condominium association, there are certain issues that are time sensitive in terms of warranties and the like. Sitting back and letting your condo developer shoulder responsibilities that everyone else should be taking an interest in is just plain foolish. Don’t worry; I count myself in the group of owners that simply let our developer guide our little ship onto the rocks.

For example, we became a condo association in the eyes of the State of Illinois in 2001. We had been writing checks for our assessments to our association since that time. Yet when the new board took over in early 2005, there were no bank statements or financial records that could be located since before June 2003. The question remains where we as an association had our accounts. We also don’t know if our developer and his partners (oh yes, he had partners) paid the assessments on the unsold units like they should have from the sale of the first unit.

Fun times on the south side, huh?

Secondly we as homeowners didn’t know our rights under the law. Once again, we simply were too trusting that someone other than ourselves had our best interests at heart. But there we sat with our heads firmly up our asses without a care in the world. Whoo boy did that come back to bite us---big time.

Now you’re probably wondering why I didn’t do anything about this sordid mess before it got out of hand. After my closing, I was in a bit of a financial mess that while not of my own making, was ultimately my responsibility. I fell behind on my assessments and wouldn’t you know it, the developer and his partners changed the rules for running as an officer on the board. Right before the first elections in 2002, they came up with rule stating that you couldn’t run for the board if you had unpaid or back assessments.

Brilliant---a masterstroke that shut me down for almost two years.

But you can’t keep a good woman down. I got my financial shit together so to speak and kept on the straight and narrow. I ran for the board, got on and you are now reading about the rest as fast as I can type.

Okay, you’ve heard most of the worst of the drama. I’m sure there are unseen and undiscovered issues that we have yet to make themselves known. Nonetheless I’ve hit the high notes about our problems. The best part of any melodrama is how fortunes are turned around and wrongs are set right.

Next: The road to recovery.

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